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The Mediterranean diet which is rich in olive oil, nuts, seafood, whole grains and vegetables has previously been linked to a number of benefits. It has been known to reduce major cardiovascular events such as heart attacks (myocardial infarction) and strokes, as well as help healthy people to live longer. But any beneficial impact on death has still remained uncertain.

The study, led by an international team of researchers and published by The BMJ, showed that Mediterranean and low fat dietary programmes “probably reduce the risk of mortality and non-fatal myocardial infarction in people at increased cardiovascular risk”.

The review of 48 trials involving 35,548 participants showed that Mediterranean dietary programmes were better than minimal intervention at preventing all cause mortality (17 fewer deaths per 1,000 over five years), non-fatal heart attack (17 fewer per 1,000) and stroke (seven fewer per 1,000) for patients at intermediate risk of cardiovascular disease.

While Mediterranean dietary programmes also showed reduction in stroke risk, other dietary programmes showed little or no benefit over minimal intervention (eg. usual diet or brief dietary advice from a health professional), said researchers, including from universities of McMaster in Canada and Texas in the US.

Low-fat programmes were also superior to minimal intervention with moderate certainty for prevention of all cause mortality (nine fewer deaths per 1,000) and non-fatal heart attack (seven fewer per 1,000).

The absolute effects for both Mediterranean and low-fat programmes were more pronounced for patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease (36 fewer all-cause deaths per 1,000 and 39 fewer cardiovascular deaths per 1,000 among those that followed the Mediterranean dietary programme over five years).

The five other dietary programmes generally had little or no benefit compared with minimal intervention typically based on low to moderate certainty evidence.

The researchers also acknowledged several limitations, such as being unable to measure adherence to dietary programmes and the possibility that some of the benefits may have been due to other elements within the programmes like drug treatment and support to stop smoking.

- With input from agencies


Speaking exclusively to GN Focus, Tamer Shraira, Co-founder, Fitlab, the UAE-based healthy meal plan brand, elaborates on the World Health Day theme of health for all and its relevance during Ramadan while also spotlighting diet plans trending in the UAE.

Tamer Shraira

As the world commemorates World Health Day today, how relevant is its theme – health for all – for people in the UAE and Middle East during Ramadan?

It is highly relevant for people in the UAE and Middle East, especially in Ramadan. During this holy month, people tend to change their eating habits, which can lead to several health issues. It is therefore essential for individuals to maintain a healthy lifestyle during Ramadan.

Which diet plans are currently trending in the UAE and why?

Weight-loss plan and Maintain Weight plan are most popular, because they are proven to be effective for achieving optimal health and longevity. Obesity and unhealthy eating habits have been linked to numerous health problems. Therefore, people are seeking out healthy meal plan services to simplify their healthy lifestyle choices and achieve their weight loss goals.

What are the precautions one needs to be aware of before taking on a diet plan?

First, don’t forget to consult a healthcare professional to determine whether the plan is suitable for your body type, health conditions, and dietary needs. Second, choose a sustainable diet plan that is realistic and flexible. Finally, monitor your progress and be cautious of diet trends that promise quick results.

— GN Focus Report